Whoa.

Now this is the show I dreamed of when Marvel announced Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in 2012. In the first 10 minutes of “One Door Closes,” Mockingbird kicks open a door in a slow motion and guns down a room full of Hydra agents without a wasted bullet. In the last 10 minutes, Quake unleashes a shockwave that turns trees into splinters, and is then rescued by a teleporting Inhuman. It’s a lot of fun to see characters I love from the comics be totally badass in live action, but it’s even better when it happens in a captivating story.

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“One Door Closes” is a high point for this series, delivering tense spy intrigue, thrilling action, and a spectacular display of Inhuman power that raises the stakes not just for this series, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Skye was compared to the Hulk in last week’s episode, and we see just how apt the comparison is when she unleashes her power tonight, deflecting the bullet speeding toward her but devastating her immediate surroundings in the process. She is the future of the MCU, and if beings like Skye are about to become a lot more prevalent, S.H.I.E.L.D. has good reason to be worried.

Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ends this summer with Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man, and Skye represents what’s coming next. With an Inhumans film closing out Phase Three in 2019, it’s safe to say that the Inhumans will factor into the next four years of the MCU, and it’s very likely that the current events in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are laying the groundwork for next summer’s Captain America: Civil War. It’s crazy that Skye, a character that struggled to fit in to this world for over a season, is suddenly a major figure in the evolution of the MCU. She’s far more intriguing in this current position, and her story’s connection to the bigger picture of the MCU makes it one of the most engaging parts of the series.

Skye takes some big steps toward understanding her Inhuman heritage in this week’s episode, which sees Gordon arriving at her safe house to offer her sanctuary when she inevitably needs it in the future (the very near future, as it turns out). Jamie Harris does great work making Gordon a charismatic figure, and he has a friendly, cool demeanor that makes him the perfect ambassador for frightened new Inhumans. He gives a confident performance that immediately defines Gordon’s character, and his strong chemistry with Chloe Bennet has me anxious to see more interactions between the two now that Skye is his houseguest.

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Last week I commented on the lack of a strong motivation for Bobbi to side with Gonzales’ faction of S.H.I.E.L.D., but my concerns are quelled by this week’s flashbacks to “The Day S.H.I.E.L.D. Fell.” Why did Bobbi join Gonzales? Because they lived through the fall together, and he listened to her when she decided to disobey an order from Nick Fury that would have meant the loss of good men and women. After saving an injured Gonzales with the help of Mack and Isabelle Hartley, Bobbi is supposed to destroy the server core of the S.H.I.E.L.D. battleship Iliad, which will sink the ship, its dangerous cargo, and any lives on board, but rather than listen to the wishes of a dead man, Bobbi decides to abandon the mission and fight with her allies to take back the vessel.

Adrianne Palicki was upgraded to a regular cast member after the hiatus, and “One Door Closes” is when Bobbi really starts taking a more significant role in the series. The flashbacks show her prowess as a secret agent, delve into her relationships with Mack, Hartley, and Gonzales, and highlight her dedication to doing what is right, even when it means disobeying direct orders, all of which inform her actions in the present as she steals Fury’s “toolbox” and helps “the real S.H.I.E.L.D.” take down Coulson’s team. Bobbi genuinely cares for people on both sides of the S.H.I.E.L.D. conflict, but she’s also seen the dangers of Coulson’s crusade and isn’t willing to have any more of her friends die as he chases power. She’s already dedicated to Gonzales’ cause, but seeing the damage caused by Skye’s power tells Bobbi that she’s fighting for the right side.

And oh, how she fights. In addition to the aforementioned shootout, Bobbi also has an intense fight with Agent May that begins with a backflip through a glass wall and ends with the two women fighting over the small cube that is Nick Fury’s database of extraordinary objects and people. In general, it’s a great week for women kicking butt on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Lucy Lawless gets to show off her action skills as Isabelle Hartley after having her talents wasted earlier in the season, and Skye gets her hands dirty when she faces off against a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before unleashing her shockwave on Bobbi and Agent Calderon.

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This series has been steadily building steam since the start of season 2, and a major reason for that is because the status quo is constantly changing. The introduction of the Inhuman elements marked a major shift, and tonight’s episode marks another one as Gonzales makes his move against Coulson and puts an end to his operation. By the end of the episode, a number of new storytelling doors have been opened, giving the season a huge burst of momentum as it races to the finale. Fitz, Simmons, and May are currently in Gonzales’ custody, Coulson and Lance are planning their retaliation from a tropical island, and Skye is about to get a lesson in Inhumanity thanks to Gordon. The situation just gets more dire for this team with every week, but if it means the quality will stay this high, I have no problem with Coulson and his crew getting dragged through hell for my enjoyment.

Stray observations:

  • Skye’s power-suppressing gloves are much more stylish than the clunky gauntlets she has to wear in the comics. Although it looks like she may not need to wear anything on her arms at all if she can learn how to control her power.
  • Every time I hear mention of “Vibranium” I get really excited about Black Panther. Can’t believe we’re only a year away from seeing him on the big screen in Civil War.
  • Hydra unleashed an “enhanced” on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy. I wonder if this plot point will come back into play, perhaps with the return of the “enhanced” individual.
  • The prosthetic covering Jamie Harris’ eyes could be a lot better.
  • Fury’s “toolbox” looks a lot like a Bluetooth speaker. I wonder if you can sync your phone to it.
  • “Yes, I used to have eyes. They were blue.”
  • “I love your whole thing. You know that?”
  • “I didn’t ask for that, but I’ve come to appreciate the gesture.”
  • “That’s a really nice entrance.”
  • Coulson: “That’s a lot of umbrellas for one drink.” Bartender: “Let me guess: she got the house.”

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